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Fireman hurt when home's floor caves in

DACULA - A firefighter was hospitalized with complaints of shoulder pain Tuesday after the first floor of a burning house collapsed, sending him plummeting into the basement.

The veteran firefighter, whose name was not released because of federal patient privacy laws, was hospitalized with a minor injury, said Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

Fire crews dispatched to a two-story, five-bedroom home at 3537 Indian Shoals Road at 9:37 a.m. arrived to find a blaze had started in the basement. Thick, gray smoke was billowing from the residence, Rutledge said. The fire was doused in the basement, and firefighters were working to extinguish flames on the first floor when part of it gave way.

The firefighter fell through the gap but landed on his feet. He was able to help rescue crews pull him out, said Lt. Al Horton of Fire Station 15.

Another firefighter, Alicia Favre, also rescued a Chihuahua that scurried back into the burning house upon seeing rescue crews.

"Where the floor had collapsed, he was sitting on a beam huddled there," Favre said. "I scooped him up."

The homeowner, Olivia Goicocha, drove up to the house in a sport utility vehicle with her sister and brother-in-law about half an hour after the blaze was brought under control. She had been working at her job as a jewelry saleswoman when someone called to notify her about the fire.

Goicocha burst into tears upon seeing the extensive fire, smoke and heat damage. All the windows were broken out and the interior of the country-style, $360,000 home was charred and gray. She was worried about finding shelter and clothing for her four children, ages 15, 13, 11 and 7. Her brother-in-law, Jesus Delacruz, offered to let Goicocha and her family stay with him.

A neighbor also stopped by to inquire about the children's clothing sizes and offered to donate some secondhand clothes.

Goicocha, who did not speak English well, was thankful that firefighters saved the family dog, Azul, Delacruz said.

Firefighters were also thankful one of their own was not badly injured in the floor collapse.

"We were just fortunate that there was no active fire in the basement at the time," Rutledge said. "They were trying to control the fire on the first level when this happened."

The cause and exact origin of the fire were still under investigation on Tuesday.